Eye on Extremism: December 28, 2022

CNN: Hackers Stole Data From Multiple Electric Utilities In Recent Ransomware Attack

“Hackers stole data belonging to multiple electric utilities in an October ransomware attack on a US government contractor that handles critical infrastructure projects across the country, according to a memo describing the hack obtained by CNN. Federal officials have closely monitored the incident for any potential broader impact on the US power sector while private investigators have combed the dark web for the stolen data, according to the memo sent this month to power company executives by the North American grid regulator’s cyberthreat sharing center. The previously unreported incident is a window into how ransomware attacks on critical US companies are handled behind the scenes as lawyers and federal investigators quietly spring into action to determine the extent of the damage. The ransomware attack hit Chicago-based Sargent & Lundy, an engineering firm that has designed more than 900 power stations and thousands of miles of power systems and that holds sensitive data on those projects. The firm also handles nuclear security issues, working with the departments of Defense, Energy and other agencies “to strengthen nuclear deterrence” and keep weapons of mass destruction out of terrorists’ hands, according to its website. Two people familiar with the investigation of the Sargent & Lundy hack told CNN that the incident was contained and remediated, and didn’t appear to have a broader impact on other power-sector firms.”

Fox News: Israel Police Announced Arrest Of ISIS-Linked Suspect In Bus Station Terror Bombings

“Israeli Police on Tuesday announced the arrest of a suspect believed to be responsible for two bus station bombings that killed two people and injured more than 20 others last month, including two Americans. A joint investigation by Israeli Police, security forces, and the Israeli Defense Forces led to the arrest of 26-year-old Aslam Faruch, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem. Police said the suspect harbors a Salafi-jihadist ideology that is linked to the terrorist organization ISIS. Faruch, a mechanical engineer by training, is accused of orchestrating the attacks that occurred on Nov. 23, when bags laced with explosives were detonated remotely at two bus stations, according to Israeli Police. The bombings were condemned by global leaders, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called the explosions "cowardly terrorist attacks." Two Israeli citizens, Tadasa Tashume Ben Ma’ada and Arye Shechopek, were killed in the blasts.”


The National: West Warned Of Potential ISIS Return Next Year

“ISIS continues to pose a significant threat almost four years after its last holdouts in Syria were defeated, according to experts. They also warned the terror cell is far from extinct and will seek to bring 10,000 of its fighters from Syrian prisons and detention camps next year. At its strongest point, the terror group controlled a third of Syria and 40 per cent of Iraq, following its rise in mid-2014. But the success of the US coalition in ousting the group from towns and cities, including its capital Raqqa in Syria, meant that by March 2019 its physical caliphate had fallen. Dr Shiraz Maher, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and a member of the war studies department at King's College London, said such a plot would pose the “single greatest security threat to the West”. “Blink and you'll miss it and suddenly ISIS will be back,” he told Sky News. There are fears that a possible ground offensive by Turkey in Syria could provide the perfect environment for ISIS to once again take control of vast swathes of territory. Matthew Henman, a terror expert at intelligence firm Janes, told Sky News that ISIS “has maintained a steady tempo of insurgent violence” since being stripped of its land. The Islamic State in Khorasan Province, an affiliate of ISIS, has increased its attacks since the Taliban regained power in summer 2021.”

Reuters: Islamic State Attack In Syria's Raqqa Kills 6 Kurdish Security Forces – Official

“Six Kurdish-led security force members were killed in an Islamic State suicide attack on Monday on a security forces centre in Syria's Raqqa, the chief of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, wrote on Twitter. One suicide bomber was killed and another detained, Farhad Shami, head of the SDF's media centre, said. Islamic State took over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, including Raqqa which was its main seat of power, but since losing its last significant piece of territory in Syria in 2019 it has resorted to guerrilla attacks. Its remaining thousands of militants have in recent years mostly hid out in remote hinterlands though they are still capable of carrying out insurgent-style attacks. A major IS attack on the SDF-run al-Sina'a prison in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka in January left some 500 people dead, including 374 people linked to ISIS and dozens of SDF fighters and prison staff, the SDF said.”


Radio Free Europe: Islamic State Claims Attack That Killed Taliban Police Chief In Badakhshan

“The Islamic State (IS) militant group has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed a key Taliban security official on December 26 in the northern Afghan province of Badakhshan. Regional security chief Abdulhaq Abu Omar and two others were killed in a car-bomb attack that took place near the regional police headquarters in Faizabad, the province's capital and largest city, according to the Taliban's acting Interior Ministry. Badakhshan Province is bordered by Tajikistan to the north, China to the east, and Pakistan in the southeast. The ministry's spokesman, Abdul Nafi Takur, told RFE/RL that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the incident, which he said was carried out using a vehicle fitted with a mine in a high-speed attack. According to a statement released by the IS mouthpiece Amaq, militants had closely monitored Omar's movements before carrying out the attack. Omar is believed to be the highest-ranking Taliban security official slain since the hard-line Islamist group returned to power in August 2021 following the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban-led government has dealt with a constant stream of violence since returning to power. Some attacks, including in Afghanistan's north, have been attributed to the IS affiliate Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K).”

Reuters: U.N. Security Council Denounces Taliban Bans On Women In Afghanistan

“The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday called for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan, denouncing a ban by the Taliban-led administration on women attending universities or working for humanitarian aid groups. In a statement agreed by consensus, the 15-member council said the ban on women and girls attending high school and universities in Afghanistan "represents an increasing erosion for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms." U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter on Tuesday that the restrictions were "unjustifiable human rights violations and must be revoked." He added: "Actions to exclude and silence women and girls continue to cause immense suffering and major setbacks to the potential of the Afghan people." The university ban on women was announced as the Security Council in New York met on Afghanistan last week. Girls have been banned from high school since March.”


Associated Press: Pakistan Arrests Suspects Linked To Bombing In Islamabad

“Authorities arrested five people suspected of involvement in last week's suicide car bombing that killed a police officer in the capital of Islamabad, Pakistan's interior minister said Tuesday. Rana Sanaullah Khan made the announcement on Twitter, saying the detainees included the suicide bomber's handler. He said the attacker arrived in the garrison city of Rawalpindi from a former tribal area of Kurram. Khan did not disclose the identity of the detainees and no spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, which had claimed responsibility for the attack, was immediately available for comment. Initially, police and the government said the slain driver of the weaponized vehicle was also a suspect. But later, a probe into the attack concluded he was innocent as he did not know that militants were traveling in his car. Several civilians and three police were also wounded in Friday's bombing. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leaders and fighters have been hiding in neighboring Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban are separate but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan last year as U.S. and NATO troops withdrew after 20 years of war.”

The Independent: Potential Terror Threat In Pakistan Hotel Prompts Many Countries To Issue Travel Warning

“The threat of a possible terror attack on Pakistan capital Islamabad’s Marriott hotel has led to a number of countries issuing a warning to citizens from travelling there. Saudi Arabia has joined the US, UK and Australia in releasing a travel advisory warning citizens against going to Pakistan. The Joe Biden administration had earlier on Sunday issued a red alert prohibiting US government staff from visiting Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel and banned all public gatherings. A statement by the US embassy in Pakistan said there was information “that unknown individuals are possibly plotting to attack Americans at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad sometime during the holidays”. “Effective immediately, the Embassy in Islamabad is prohibiting all American staff from visiting Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel,” it said. The embassy also urged all mission personnel to refrain from non-essential and unofficial travel in Islamabad throughout the holiday season. A day later, Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Islamabad tweeted a statement urging citizens residing and visiting Pakistan “to take caution and not go out except for necessity, given that the authorities in the capital, Islamabad, have raised the security alert to the highest level”. Last week, a suicide bombing killed one policeman and injured six people in Islamabad in an attack by Pakistan’s Taliban arm.”

Middle East

i24NEWS: West Bank: 16 Arrested By Israeli Forces During Anti-Terrorism Operation

“The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Shin Bet internal security services and Border Police soldiers arrested 16 wanted people across the West Bank during a counterterrorism operation overnight Monday to Tuesday. The troops operated in several places in the West Bank including, among others, the villages of Almaniya and Ad-Dhahiriya. In the city of Nablus, six wanted persons suspected of being involved in terrorist activities were arrested. During the operation, gunmen fired on IDF forces, causing no casualties. During an operation in the village of Jeva in the area of the regional division of Menasha, the fighters arrested two other wanted people and confiscated two “Carlo” type weapons. Additionally, IDF soldiers arrested six wanted men in the villages of Silwad, A-Ram and Bitin in the Binyamin Regional Division area. At the same time, IDF forces operated in the village of El Khader in the Etzion Brigade area, then arrested two wanted people and confiscated explosives in the village of Bid Faluh. An “Airsoft” pistol and an IDF uniform were also located. In addition, the fighters operated in the village of Yatta in the area of the regional division of Yehuda and confiscated ammunition. No casualties to Israeli forces were reported during the overnight activities, which are part of the larger “Break the Wave” operation which has featured nightly counterterrorism raids throughout the year.”


All Africa: Nigeria: Terrorists Kill 32 Persons, Release 200 Others Kidnapped From Zamfara Community - Traditional Ruler

“At least 32 out of the over 200 people kidnapped from the Randa Community in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State have been killed by their abductors. A traditional leader in Mutumji Community, Abdulkadir Abdullahi, disclosed this to PREMIUM TIMES Monday evening. Mr Abdullahi also said about 200 others hostages were released after a ransom was paid. PREMIUM TIMES reported how terrorists loyal to notorious terror kingpin, Lawalli Damina, kidnapped the entire male residents of the Randa community over missing rifles. They were abducted after they denied knowledge of the whereabouts of two rifles that allegedly went missing in the community. The rifles were said to belong to two fighters of the terror kingpin who were killed by another gang member after they clashed over a girl in the community. Randa, which is under Mutumji ward, is in the Dansadau Emirate and sits at the edge of Kuyanbana forest in the ungoverned boundaries with Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger states. A traditional leader in Mutumji, Abdulkadir Abdullahi, told PREMIUM TIMES late Monday that the residents were released late Sunday after they agreed to pay N30 million as ransom to the terrorist groups. However, Mr Abdullahi said N6 million was paid to the terrorists while the N24 million outstanding balance would be paid later following the release of the hostages as agreed by both parties.”


Al Jazeera: Ten Civilians Killed In Burkina Faso After Bus Hits Landmine

“Ten people have been killed and several injured when their bus hit a roadside bomb in eastern Burkina Faso, the country’s government said on Monday. The bus was travelling from the market town of Fada N’Gourma, about 220km (136 miles) from the capital Ouagadougou, to the border town of Kantchari near neighbouring Niger. The vehicle was travelling near the village of Bougui on Sunday afternoon when it hit a mine, Colonel Hubert Yameogo, the regional governor, said in a statement. The injured were taken to the hospital in Fada N’Gourma, the main town in the east, and the rest of the passengers on the bus disappeared, Yameogo said. The government is restoring security to the area and trying to locate the missing passengers. No one has claimed responsibility, but the attack occurred in an area where the government is battling fighters linked to al-Qaeda in North Africa, and ISIL (ISIS). Violence linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL has racked the country for more than six years, killing thousands and displacing nearly two million people. The government’s inability to stem the attacks led to two coups this year with each military leader promising to make security a priority. However, attacks are continuing and swaths of land are being cut off by armed groups. The east and Sahel regions have been some of the hardest hit parts of the country, with towns besieged by rebels who prevent civilians from moving freely.”


AFP: Paris Attack Puts Spotlight On The Kurdish Question

“The deadly attack on Kurds in Paris last week has highlighted the long plight of the non-Arab ethnic group of between 25 and 35 million people who remain stateless. The Kurds inhabit largely mountainous regions across southeastern Turkey through northern Syria and Iraq to central Iran. They are often described as the world's largest people without a state. Many have been internally displaced in the Middle East because of decades of bitter conflicts, while others have been forced to flee persecution to the West, especially Western Europe. After three Kurds were shot dead and three others injured on Friday in the 10th district of Paris, home to a large Kurdish population, the community is once again fearful. The shooting has deepened raw wounds, coming less than 10 years after three Kurdish women activists were gunned down in the same area. The community's anger has spilled over with protests and tribute rallies to the victims where demonstrators have chanted: “Our martyrs do not die” in Kurdish and demanded “truth and justice”. The community wants justice for the 2013 unsolved murder of three activists who belonged to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), proscribed by Turkey and its Western allies as a “terrorist” organisation.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

We must use our privilege as humans to fight back against the system that keeps animals oppressed... They can’t wait. The earth can’t wait. Get off your ass and FIGHT.

Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ALF statement Jul. 23, 2019
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